Skip to comments.Michael Barone: Firefighter Case Shows Seamy Side of Racial Politics
Posted on 07/02/2009 6:55:31 PM PDT by neverdem
The Supreme Court's decision in Ricci v. DeStefano, the case of the New Haven firefighters, was a ringing endorsement of the Civil Rights Act of 1964's ban on racial discrimination and a repudiation of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's decision in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. While five justices flatly rejected Sotomayor's ruling, even the four dissenters wouldn't have let stand her ruling allowing the results of a promotion exam to be set aside because no black firefighter had a top score.
Ricci is also something else: a riveting lesson in political sociology, thanks to the concurring opinion by Justice Samuel Alito. It shows how a combination of vote-hungry politicians and local political agitators -- you might call them community organizers -- worked with the approval of elite legal professionals like Sotomayor to employ racial quotas and preferences in defiance of the words of the Civil Rights Act.
One of the chief actors was the Rev. Boise Kimber, a supporter of Mayor John DeStefano. The mayor testified for him as a character witness in a 1996 trial in which he was convicted of stealing prepaid funeral expenses from an elderly woman. DeStefano later appointed Kimber the head of the board of fire commissioners, but Kimber resigned after saying he wouldn't hire certain recruits because "they just have too many vowels in their name."
After the results of the promotion test were announced, showing that 19 white and one Hispanic firefighter qualified for promotion, Kimber called the mayor's chief administrative officer opposing certification of the test results.
The record shows that DeStefano and his appointees went to work, holding secret meetings and concealing their motives, to get the Civil Service Board to decertify the test results. Kimber appeared at a board meeting and made "a loud, minutes-long outburst" and had to be ruled out of order three times.
City officials ignored the inconvenient fact that they had hired an independent and experienced firm -- this is a thriving business -- to draw up a bias-free test and paid a competing firm to draw up another test. Its head testified that the first firm's test was biased without seeing it. The board capitulated and decertified the test. DeStefano was prepared to overrule it if it had gone the other way.
Such is governance these days in a liberal university town. It may remind some of us old enough to remember of the machinations and contrivances of Southern white officials and agitators employed to prevent blacks from registering and voting.
This is the sort of thing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg described in the text as just the workings of politics. Writing in Slate, Yale Law faculty member Emily Bazelon goes further. She laments that the promotion test rewarded memorization and that it favored "'fire buffs' -- guys who read fire suppression manuals on their down time."
She is outraged that a fire department might want to promote firefighters who know more about suppressing fires, rescuing victims and protecting their colleagues rather than simply promote a predetermined number of members of specific racial groups whose self-appointed political spokesmen back the politicians in office.
Bazelon and Sotomayor, who voted to uphold the city's decertification of the promotion test, are typical of liberal elites who are ready to ratify squalid political deals -- and blatant racial discrimination -- in return for the political support and the votes that can be rallied by the likes of Kimber. You supply the numbers on Election Day, and we'll supply the verbiage to put a pretty label on your shenanigans.
Usually the people who are hurt by this are not as sympathetic as Frank Ricci, the dyslexic firefighter who paid a friend $1,000 to read the training manuals and studied hard enough to get the highest score on the test.
But I think we ought to reserve some of our sympathy for the purported beneficiaries of this wretched discrimination, the black firefighters. Their champions -- Kimber and DeStefano, Bazelon and Sotomayor -- are telling them that their way up in life should not be determined by the content of their character or by mastery of their worthy craft, but by the color of their skin. Not by a fair and unbiased test, but by dishonest wire-pulling and threats of political retaliation.
Thanks to Justice Alito, for pulling back the curtain and showing the ugly reality of racial discrimination in America today.
Barone & Alito kich@ss & take names. It's half the length of Kennedy's opinion, IMHO.
It appears to be harder to be an honest and truthful black politician than to pass a camel through the eye of a needle.
Lately - we appear to be having more trouble with out white, brown, yellow and multi-hued politicians as well!
Well, thats pretty stupid academic reasoning, isnt it?The Blacks who took the test FAILED; what other way was there to get in? They have the votes, they want the booty. Fair is fair.
I am hoping these guys will now get the promotions with back pay plus interest.
I am learning some new facts about this case and it makes me even more upset that I live here and have to pay taxes when we have this slimeball mayor who deals with allies like this “reverend.” He is of the same ilk as J. Wright I think.
Someone out there must disagree with the court’s decision but those people are hard to find. Go to any blog or website from the local media and agreement is just about unanimous. The local paper obviously had to dig up one comment out of 100 to put on the front page saying the decision was wrong. I would like to ask all these people who say they don’t like it when blacks get preferential treatment, did you all vote for 0bama? Or Mayor Destefano or any other left wing politicians who give us these policies and appoint pro quota judges?? Of course it is unfortunate that Judges Stevens and Souter were appointed by Republican presidents but it is mostly Demo appointed judges who have gotten us into the messes we’re in.
In any case despite the outpouring of anger over the blatant discrimination the city practiced, the mayor will easily be reelected. Nothing will change. And people will continue to whine and moan.
Sometime ago I wrote a post in a different context which makes the same point:
"The whole idea of liberalism to repeal natural laws and substitute the will of the liberal. Liberalism, for example, repeatedly founders because it ignores natural laws of human behavior such as the disincentives which come from taking away private property.
A main idea of liberalism is to do away with the profit and loss system and substitute a command system with, of course, the chief of the system being the proponent of the system. The whole idea of communism is to do away with the profit and loss reality and create an economy which operates on a different set of principles.
Liberals do this in the legal arena as well. They forum shop. If they do not like political result on the municipal level they go to the state level; if the state level does not avail, they go on to the federal level; ultimately they will take their case to the world court. Each forum is only a whistle stop on the way to the desired result. Liberals are always changing the rules of the game at halftime."
We have a brand-new liberal in the Senate and I think he got there by changing the rules of the game in midstream.
There are some real scum out there. They obviously don’t care what happens to decent people when they can shout racist for reasons that are lies and their personal agendas are not being met.
Are you listening Obama? This applies to you and that hateful wife of yours.
Sotomayor claims to be a “wise Latina”. I, however, am a wisecracker.
Enjoy Ricci while you can. The good guys won for a change.
The socialists are determined to make a hash of it all in the economy and foreign affairs. Obama wants to be the socialist Reagan for the left, as his most recent biographer just said as much on the Charlie Rose Show. The moderates and the independents didn’t have a clue when they elected Obama.
The weird part is that to take back and keep the Congress since 2006, they moved to the right fiscally and socially. They started spouting “pay as you go” fiscal rectitude, and they ran pro-life and pro Second Amendment candidates where necessary. IMHO, the rats are going to go off the cliff.
The Archie Bunkers of this world are, after all, matched by the George Jeffersons. There an deputy mayor, or ex- in Dallas who is on trial for shaking down white contractors. On tape they have been caught says that puny contributions are not long enough, now they wanted serious graft. Speaking of, we have a former Detroit mayor convicted of corruption now living ins Southlake, a very toney town. The blacks remind me of the Irish politicians, like Frank Skeffington of “The Last Hurrah.” But with a product of the Daley machine in the White House, I am afraid that we haven’t seen anything yet.
From your lips to God's ear...
I volunteer to take a position at the bottom of the cliff and shoot the survivors.
RR-thanks for the belly laugh.
The word "sympathy" is telling in the dissent. These dissenters are a JOKE and should resign.
You have a point. The people who "deliver the votes" deserve the kind of fire protection they'll get by pulling strings and screwing really honest, competent firefighters out of jobs.
You say a seven-story apartment building burned up and took 300 people with it? Awww, too bad. I'm moved.
"Such is governance these days in a liberal university town."
Like a Third World country.
Thanks for the ping.